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This is Page 49.

See some past weeks' photos below.

See an index of all past weeks' photos here.

See Page 1 here with the current photo of the week.


We welcome your pictures. We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We're looking for vintage photos and contemporary photos: family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo to share, email us for information about sending it to us.

Each week, we'll post selected photos from those received. We'll also share some photos posted previously elsewhere at CowboyPoetry.com.


Send your photo.

 Email us for information about sending it to us.



If you enjoy this feature, you may also be interested in our 
Western Memories Project, the personal recollections— many with photos— contributed by BAR-D visitors.  Your stories and photos are welcome.

previous weeks' photos

index of all photos

May 18, 2009

California writer and poet Tom J. Mariani shared a poem, and told us about the photo that inspired it. We invited Tom to share additional information and photos. He writes:

Our family has a picture of my great grandparents, Jim and Birdie Boots, taken in 1907, the year they were married. They are aboard Jim's six-horse-team wagon. With high sideboards, it is fully loaded with tanbark in Briceland, west of Garberville, California.

Jim and Birdie Boots (my great-grandparents) newly married circa 1907 aboard Jim's six-horse-team wagon loaded with tanbark for the Wagner Leather Tannery, This picture was taken on her family's homestead near Ettersburg, West of Garberville on US 101 south of Eureka.

The poem I have written is about my great aunt telling me what it was like growing up on the family homestead with three sisters and her mother running the ranch.

Her father hauled railroad ties. The end of the line from San Francisco was Willits. He later drove a mail coach. So he was away from the ranch for several days at a time. When he was there, while he helped, he also had to prepare his horses and equipment for his next scheduled run. The poem is through the eyes of a young girl who may have not thought it was fair that she, her sisters and mom were left behind to run the ranch.

It May Not Seem Fair

She was part
Of what held
This family together

When it didn't want or
Didn't think it needed
To be held

Now she tells me
Of growing up on the ranch
In the early nineteen hundreds

Why their father left
Coming by with money
Putting in a couple days' work

Then heading back out
As they held together
Four young girls and their mother

On a ranch
That needed the hands
Of at least two strong men

Just to hold the horses
Horses that were halter broke
Yet still needed to learn

To respond
To the bridles
They would wear

They needed
To be taught
But never question why

They would turn
Trot canter pause
Cut gallop stop short

When they felt
The pull in their mouths
The slap on their flanks

Expected to be saddled
Carry pull
And be ridden

For the rest of
Their lives
Working a ranch

Herding a small
String of beef cattle
And milk cows

Guess he was not ready for that
He drove a six-horse team
Trained to haul railroad ties

Or with high sideboards
On the wagon
Loads of tanbark

The girls had turkeys and pigs
To raise
Cows to milk

Chickens to feed
Kill pluck and clean
Eggs to collect candle and sell

Deer they shot
Needed to be dressed out
Venison jerky seasoned hung to dry

Tall green stalks of corn to harvest
Apples to pick and put up
Pots to clean

A garden to tend
Vegetables to sell or barter
For flour salt coffee fabric

Lanterns to trim and light
Clothes to mend and wash by hand
And then hang out to dry

All by hand
Without his
He was in town or

Out of town on the road
In the winter he drove
The mail coach

It took three days north to Eureka
Overnight stops for supper
Fresh horses

After meals for the passengers
He played his fiddle
Drinks for the driver

The trip by car now takes
Only about an hour
Up the Redwood Highway

Not a fair race
We don't go by the way of
Ettersburg Briceland

Redway Garberville
Out Bells Spring Road
To pick up and deliver mail

On to Harris Alderpoint Fort Steward
And in between
Laying up overnight

Back to Phillipsville
Through Miranda Meyers Flat
Shively Pepperwood

Stafford Scotia Rio Dell
Alton before again
Overnight in Fortuna

She showed me where the coach stop was
More fresh horses drinks and dancing
Next morning early start to Eureka

She has told me
More stories this morning
As I listened

She has outlived
Her three sisters
She is the last

Now giving me
Her explanation of why
Their father left

A wife to run a ranch and raise
Four young daughters by herself
On her mother's family homestead

© 2009, Tom J. Mariani
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Jim and three of his four daughters standing, their husbands sitting, circa 1950. The girls' birthdays were in November and December, so they had one party. 

Jim Boots, log loaded, 1948

I also have a short memoir written by Jim Boots before he died in 1963 that was published in the Humboldt Historical Society. It is about how Jim set out on his own in Southern Humboldt at age of 14, "The Life of an Old Stage Coach Driver and Mule Skinner." I am the first of the fifth generation of our family born in Northern California. Our grandchildren are the seventh.

My great grandfather holding me, 1948

Read more about Tom J. Mariani here.


   Share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo and story to share, email us.


May 11, 2009

South Dakota rancher, poet, and writer Robert Dennis shares photos from this year's calving and branding on the Dennis Ranch, along with a poem. He writes:

Thought you might like some shots from Springtime on the northern plains. Which means calving time! It's been a doozy around these parts this spring. Three blizzards with over a foot of new snow, each time, within two weeks! A new record.

Record flooding also. As an old time rancher used to say, "They won't all die!"

One nice thing about all this melted snow and rain, we sure ought to have plenty of grass and hay this year!

Sam at the wheel and Gus looking out, helping Grampa and their Dad, 
Chance, fence.

My favorite cow and her new baby.

These pictures are pretty timely, as there are lots of brandings taking place in the next month. This is my son Chance riding Dean. He is in the pen, roping calves to be dragged out to the calf wrestlers.

Here he has one and is dragging one out as this young lady walks up  to take the rope. Her partner, out of sight, will walk up from the other side, take a hold of the calf's tail and they will tug in opposite directions at the same time, which will tip the calf on his side.

The horses and rider will continue moving forward all this time and drag the calf close to the fire, where the wrestlers will take  the rope off releasing the roper to go get another.

One calf wrestler will kneel over the front shoulder, hanging on to the top leg of the calf while the other will set behind the calf with one foot on its  butt and the other on the hock bone of the lower leg, while pulling  back on the top hind leg. This will pretty much immobilize the calf for the few seconds it takes to brand and vaccinate him.

The calf  will then be turned loose to run to his mother where she will comfort him. This goes on for thousands and thousands of calves, all over the West. In this area of the northern plains it is a spring ritual and a  necessary function on western ranches.

Another view of this:

This shows how the wrestlers hold the calf. In this area all the ranches are smaller family ranches who mostly have cow/calf pairs.  They are the backbone of the whole livestock industry. At most brandings around here, all the crew switches off on the different jobs, taking turns. Those who want to, will rope and drag for a while and then trade and hold the calves or give the shots. This is my vacation time and I hate it if I have to miss one branding!


At daylight I’m saddlin’ up my horse
Maybe time for a quick cup of “jo”
I hooked up the trailer last night before dark
I’ll load my horse and I’m ready to go

As I drive to the neighbors ranch this mornin’
I mourn for the lost ways, work was done
Campin’ and workin’ with a roundup crew
Had to be more efficient and lots more fun

But that was long, long years ago
When the big cow outfits were runnin’ cattle here
Back before the government wanted this land populated
They’ve since changed their mind, I fear

I think about the animal rights people
Wish they could understand all aspects of our trade
That we do the jobs that we do out of necessity
That beef steers are not born, but made

Branding is part of our annual rite of spring
We don’t really considered it work as such
A celebration of the survival of one more season
We’re once more out of winters icy clutch

It’s our chance to practice the age old skills
To shake our fists at this modern age
They’ve tried to ship us all off to the cities
We stand firm and deny them with rage

A passing of the mantle to our younger generation
A time to teach them the ranching skills
That our life is worthwhile and has meaning
We unite as a clan to practice our drills

To prove that this lifestyle is still viable
That a horse and a rope are still valuable tools
That we have survived yet another year
We laugh at the uncomprehending who call us fools

© 1998, Robert Dennis 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Robert Dennis has contributed other interesting photos to Picture the West, including:

  Summer ranch photos

Photos taken while he was "out riding on yearlings"

Photos of his mares and colts

Family photos from the 1920s and 1940s

Photos and stories from his ranch and Red Owl

Area photos from the early 1900s

rdfatheruncles.jpg (54358 bytes) Family photos from the 1920s

Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski

Read more about Robert Dennis and read some of his poetry here.


   Share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo and story to share, email us.

















Tell us your stories!  If you have a photo to share, email us.

See past photos starting with the most recent, on page 48.

See an index of all past photos here.








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